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    The day Oregon's electoral vote is given to Hayes, Electoral Commission member James Garfield writes about his opposition to the commission's creation

    James A. Garfield Autograph Letter Signed "J.A. Garfield," one page, 5" x 8". Washington, February 23, 1877. To G.M. Ingalsbe Esq., Sandy Hill, N.Y. In full, "Your favor of the 20th instant came duly to hand. Though I was opposed to the law which created the Electoral Commission, yet I recognized the value of the measure as a help to tide over a present difficulty, and have done what I could to make its provisions effective. I send you a copy of my speech on the bill, which you may care to read." Speech not present. On laid paper, in fine condition.

    On November 7, 1876, more Americans voted for Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York, Democrat, than for Governor Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, Republican. 185 electoral votes were needed to win the presidency and Tilden led 184-165 with with both sides claiming the remaining 20 (4 from Florida, 8 from Louisiana, 7 from South Carolina, and 1 from Oregon). On January 25, 1877, the Senate passed the 47-17 followed by the House, opposed by Garfield, the next day, 191-86. On January 29th, President Grant signed the Electoral Commission bill into law. Fifteen members were appointed, five by the House and five by the Senate; four Supreme Court Justices named in the law would select the fifth Justice. There were supposed to be seven Democrats, seven Republicans, and one independent, Supreme Court Justice David Davis, but Davis resigned from the Court to become U.S. Senator and a Republican was named to replace him. Congressman James A. Garfield was one of the five selected by the House. The commission began hearing arguments on February 1, 1877.

    On February 23, 1877, the day Garfield wrote this letter, commission member Allen G. Thurman, Democratic Senator of Ohio, was too ill to attend the morning meeting in the Capitol. For the afternoon session, and the vote, the 14 other members proceeded in carriages to Thurman's residence on 14th Street between K and L. With Sen. Thurman in his bed, the commission voted on Oregon's disputed vote with Republican Garfield voting with the majority, 8-7, giving the vote to Republican Hayes. If this one electoral vote had gone to Tilden, he would have been elected President! The votes of Florida and Louisiana had been decided in favor of Hayes on February 9th and 16th respectively. On February 27th, South Carolina's votes went to Hayes. In the early morning hours of March 2, 1877, two days before the scheduled inauguration, it was officially announced at a joint session of Congress that Hayes had defeated Tilden, 185 electoral votes to 184. All 20 disputed votes went to Hayes, strictly on party lines, by votes of 8-7.

    Letters written by members of the Electoral Commission during their deliberations are exceedingly rare, especially those mentioning the commission.

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